People go nuts about Halloween.
That made me start thinking about the psychology behind the celebration.
Halloween is actually an ancient Celtic holiday on which people believed they needed masks to protect themselves from bad spirits that roamed the earth on all Hallows eve. (if you are in America or in Australia depending on the high end of children around your neighbourhood!)
Thousands of years later, people are still wearing masks.
They hide behind anything from a false smile to headphones to my personal favorite:
- People who wear dark glasses which tend to look a little creepy—and these people aren’t celebrities.
Then there are the emotional masks, the masks we hide behind because of fear.
For example, if we are insecure, we might hide behind the mask of name-dropping. If we are unsure of our power, we can hide behind mask of being a bully.
If we don’t think the world loves us, we can hide behind mask of anger.
We mask the debt we’ve incurred to pay for lifestyles we can’t afford;
- we pretend things are fine at work, when our jobs are on the line;
- we pretend things are okay in our marriages when there is distance.
What masks do you wear?
One of the most common reasons we wear masks is what I think of as Imposter Syndrome—the fear that the world is going to find us out.
One of our greatest fears is that if we show our true selves, the world will say, “Oh, it’s just you.” But being just you is actually the best and most perfect thing you could ever be.
As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”
Or if you are interested in the spiritual perspective, the psalmist wrote, d actress Fanny Brice explained,
“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be because sooner or later, if you are posing, you are not being you.
The third reason is healing.
When we wear masks, we carve a piece of ourselves out— withholding parts of ourselves as unworthy.
But in relationships, especially in our spiritual relationships, we can’t be truly healed unless we offer up all the pieces.
It’s like handing someone a broken vase and asking him or her to fix it but holding back two or three of the broken pieces.
As one of the pastors of Hope City Church in Indianapolis, Indiana explained, “Masks make shallow what God has intended to be deep… (read this)
Everything in our lives get cheated when we choose to hide ourselves behind our masks.
We weren’t born with masks. We put them on, so we can take them off.
Start with this simple exercise:
- Think about a negative messages you have held onto.
- Why am I carrying that message?
Ask yourself whether it is true? More than likely, the answer is no.
And if it is not, then you have to ask these questions:
If I put it down, what would happen?
- Probably nothing.
The main risk we face is the world’s reaction.
Opening yourself up threatens others; it invites them reevaluate their own lives. Many times, it forces them to realize that they too have the power to change, but they haven’t.
Don’t let that stop you.
Don’t pull your mask partially off then let the world scare you into putting it back on.
As the poet E. E. Cummings wrote,
“The greatest battle we face as human beings is the battle to protect our true selves from the self the world wants us to become.”
Think about the masks you wear and commit to taking them off.
Hold your gifts out to the world—no apology, no shame, no regrets.
As the old saying goes, every creature has its rightful place, and in that place it becomes beautiful.